After breaking down in tears following a first look at the shoe commercial depicting his rehab, Derrick Rose has a reason to smile today.
That’s because the Chicago Bulls locked down forward Taj Gibson with a four-year contract extension worth $38 million (via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune), giving Rose a power forward he can rely on for years to come.
Gibson will still be coming off the bench for now, as Carlos Boozer remains entrenched as the starting power forward. However, Bulls fans have been disenchanted with the former All-Star so far in his tenure with Chicago. Don’t be surprised if the Bulls try to dump his contract, especially considering that this may be a lost season for the team.
In just three years, Gibson has established himself as an elite defender capable of anchoring a defense. Gibson’s defensive rating has also gotten better in each of his three seasons.
In 2011-12, Chicago gave up 10.5 less points per 100 possessions when Gibson was on the floor as opposed to when he was off it. That’s an absolutely staggering number.
Some of the credit goes to head coach Tom Thibodeau and his ingenious defensive schemes, but Gibson and former frontcourt partner Omer Asik consistently outperformed starters Boozer and Joakim Noah in defensive metrics.
Although defense is Gibson’s calling card, his offense is coming along nicely as well. That may be what pushes Chicago to dump Boozer and make Gibson the full-time starter. Don’t get me wrong—he’s still nowhere near as polished as Boozer at the offensive end, but he has made strides on that end of the floor.
He's a super athlete who can run the floor and finish strong around the rim, but he's improved the rest of his arsenal as well.
Last year, Gibson set career highs in field-goal percentage, true shooting percentage, points per 36 minutes, assist percentage and offensive rating. The Bulls, as a team, also grabbed a significantly higher percentage of offensive boards with Gibson on the floor.
Some might question the Bulls giving Gibson such a big raise when they still have Boozer on the books for so much money over the next three seasons, but it was the right thing to do.
Keeping Gibson means that the Bulls retain an elite defender for their elite defense. He has the skills to guard post players down low and cover perimeter guys masquerading as 4's in small lineups. He is also a solid rebounder and terrific weak-side shot-blocker.
As his career progresses, Gibson will become a better offensive player and give Derrick Rose another option to go to. For now, at a minimum, he’ll be a hard worker and defensive anchor on the second unit. Going forward, Gibson is definitely a piece in Chicago’s championship puzzle.